Malaga city gets second place in 2021 global Expat City Ranking

The capital of the Costa del Sol was the second best rated city by expats in 2021, up from 6th place last year, whilst Valencia and Alicante have disappeared from the radar.

The ranking comes from InterNations, a global expat network, based on a survey of its members. It’s a hefty and polished report that goes into considerable detail on expat city preferences, and it looks like a lot of work has gone into it. You can see the full report here.

InterNations have been publishing their annual Expat City Ranking since 2017. “In 2021, more than 12,000 expatriates — representing as many as 174 nationalities and living in 186 countries or territories across the globe — provided information on a wide range of topics related to life abroad,” explains the report. “Thanks to these insights, the Expat City Ranking 2021 offers an overview of the 57 best- and worst-rated cities for expats worldwide.”

Malaga City

Malaga was ranked the second best city for expats in 2021, behind the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. Malaga jumped from 6th place in the ranking last year, when Valencia city was number one, and Alicante city number two. This year neither Valencia nor Alicante were in the ranking of 57 cities, but the report doesn’t explain why.

Madrid and Barcelona are still in the ranking, with Madrid down one place to 10th, and Barcelona down from 25th to 29th. Spain is the only country with two cities in the top ten.

In the ranking’s subcategories, Malaga was number one for ‘local cost of living’, ‘leisure & climate’, and ‘friends & socialising’. All the Spanish cities ranked poorly in the ‘urban work-life’ category, with Malaga second from last in the ‘job & career’ category.  

When it comes to housing, which participants rated “based on the affordability of housing and the ease of finding housing for expats,” Malaga was number three, whilst Madrid was in 24th place, and Barcelona 31st. Barcelona’s poor ranking in the housing category comes despite, or perhaps because of, the city’s attempts to control the housing market with rent controls and other measures that reduce investment and affect the stock of property for rent and sale in Barcelona.

The following table shows the ranking of Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona in all subcategories in 2021.

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